Category Archives: The Front Office

Yanks trade Cervelli; CYA winners announced

The Yanks traded backup C Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for LH reliever Justin Wilson. Wilson, 27, was 3-4, 4.20 for the Pirates in 2014. He has a 2.99 career ERA.

Cervelli, 28, hit .301-2-13 with the Yanks in 2014, OPS+ 126 in 49 games. He is a .278 career hitter, OPS+ 97 for his career. His 162 g. average is .278-6-60. You wonder if, after the Biogenesis suspension, the Yanks were looking for just the right deal to dump him.

As for A-Rod, no dumping him. Too much $$$$. Not so with Cervelli.

The funny thing is that Pirates starting catcher, Russell Martin, is a free agent and now the Pirates have Chris Stewart and Cervelli, all three going from the Bronx to the “Burgh.”

This clears up a bit of a logjam that the Yanks had at catcher. Brian McCann remains the starter, but it appears as if John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine will compete for the backup job, with the loser of the competition going to AAA to play there along with prospect Gary Sanchez.

The Yanks also signed a minor league lefty, 26 yr. old Jose De Paula, yesterday. De Paula is 33-27, 3.86 in his minor league career.

MLB announced the CYA winners yesterday. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw won the NL CYA unanimously. It’s his second straight Cy Young award and third in four years. He finished second in 2012. The AL CYA winner was Corey Kluber of Cleveland.

 

If you were Cashman….

If I were Cashman….

 

Ok. There are a lot of thoughts out there as to what someone would do if they were the GM of the Yanks. If they were Cashman. Here is what I would do. Here is what some think will happen. Feel free to add what you would do.

Remember, you don’t have an unlimited budget. You have to work within the constraints and budget that Hal Steinbrenner gives you.

Also, realize that you are stuck with some ballplayers. McCann has four years left on his deal. A-Rod and Teix two, CC a couple, two for Beltran, six for Ellsbury and Tanaka, etc.

So, I’ll take this position by position, and check into free agents and upgrades.

 

Catcher: McCann has four years left. He led the Yanks in HR and RBI in 2014 with 23 and 75. He only hit .232. The OPS+ was just 93. I’ll take the power numbers, but the average has to increase. Now, as for Cervelli, Romine, Murphy and Sanchez, you now have five catchers (inc. McCann) for the majors and AAA. That is too many. Someone (or two) has to go. McCann will get most of the playing time in the majors. Someone has to get most of the time at AAA (Sanchez?). That means you have to choose on backups. There isn’t enough playing time to go around. The Yanks have to decide who will back up McCann on the MLB level, and who will be the top starter (prospect) at AAA. Someone, or two, have to go. The Yanks have to decide who stays, and who gets included in a package deal. They also need to know what the market would bring for a Cervelli, Romine, Murphy…

So… if I were Cashman, I move one or two of these catchers in a package deal.

 

Infield/DH: You are stuck with Teixeira at 1B. You are stuck with A-Rod as probably the DH (with some time at 3B and maybe backup to the fragile Teix at 1B). Martin Prado fits in here somewhere at 2B or 3B. Ok, do you bring back Chase Headley for 3B/1B? Apparently the Yanks are talking to him about doing so. If they bring him back, does that mean Prado will be at 2B in 2015 and Headley at 3B (with A-Rod mostly DH-ing and playing 3B or 1B only when Headley or Teix need a breather?)

What about Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder? Both hit .300 at AAA in 2014. Pirela is more versatile than Refsnyder. Do you give one, or both, a chance?

And what about SS? Brendan Ryan has a good glove, but couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Hanley Ramirez is a free agent, but he has been injured recently and some think he is better suited for 3B now than SS. That doesn’t help the Yanks. Ramirez, 31 next year, if healthy, can give .290-20-95 with 20 SB. If the Yanks don’t get him, they could go after a lower-tier SS like bringing back Stephen Drew, or going after Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie.

What I would do is something different. Last year at the trade deadline, the Cubs picked up a top SS prospect from the A’s in the Samadzija/Hammel deal. Now, do they want the young prospect at SS, or do they want to keep Starlin Castro there? Is Castro available now that they have that young top prospect? Castro is 25, a 3x All-Star. Eventually the Yanks have to get younger. A 3x All-Star who is only 25 is a nice way to go. The only thing is, will the Cubs trade and who will they trade? They have a lot of money and some indications are they will go “full Steinbrenner” mode and spend a lot on free agents this offseason. So are they open to a trade?

Another trade possibility could be with the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo, like Ramirez, would come with injury questions. Great players, but they have to stay on the field. Ramirez is a free agent, while you would have to work out a trade for Tulo.

My first option: with the young prospect that the Cubs have for SS, see about a deal (and include one of the catchers listed above—Cervelli, Romine or Murphy) in a package deal for Castro. Maybe include Sanchez if necessary (after all, you have McCann for four more years). Tulo and Ramirez are some five to six years older than Castro. Maybe the Cubs don’t go for the package deal. Maybe they are fixed on free agent Russell Martin for catcher. See about a trade first for Castro. Then see about one for Tulo. Then go after Ramirez if the trades are not there. There is less talk about Castro or Tulo not cutting it at SS any more than there is with Ramirez.

Of course if Castro, Tulo, Ramirez fail, then there is plan B—-Drew, Lowrie, Cabrera.

I also let Headley go. I go with the kids Refsnyder and Pirela, and play Prado at 3B. I don’t think the Yanks will do that. I think they will go full in for Headley at 3B, want Prado at 2B and want to give Refsnyder more time at AAA. What they do with Pirela, I don’t know. Maybe a backup. But I give Refsnyder the job at 2B. I make Pirela (who can play five positions) a utility guy and I let Headley go.

Outfield: You have Gardner, Ellsbury and Beltran. If A-Rod Dh’s, Beltran has to be able to play RF. They could use a righty bat to compliment these players. Soriano is gone. Chris Young was there late last year.

My choice: sign Michael Morse as a free agent. His defense isn’t the best, but the dude can hit. He can play LF/RF and back up Teix at 1B.

 

So if I had 13 position players to start 2015 with, here are my choices.

C: McCann 1B: Teixeira 2B: Refsnyder (give the rookie a shot) SS: Castro (or Ramirez or Tulo) 3B: Prado. LF: Gardner CF: Ellsbury RF: Beltran DH: A-Rod.

Ok, that is 9. Now, four backups.

My choices: Backup C: Cervelli (or Murphy, whoever isn’t dealt). Sanchez at AAA with Murphy or Romine, whoever is still here.

Jose Pirela: He can play 1B, 2B. 3B, LF or RF. Versatile. Give the kid a shot, along with Refsnyder.

Mike Morse. Can fill in at LF/RF/1B and DH.

Brendan Ryan. Last guy on the bench. Glove man. All infield positions. Mostly backup at 2B and SS.

Pitchers. Assuming Kuroda is retiring.

Let McCarthy go via free agency.

Go full bore after Max Scherzer. Lester and Shields are available as Plan B if you don’t get Scherzer. Apparently the Cubs want Lester, Boston wants Shields. The Cubs could go for Scherzer AND Lester. But Scherzer, 30, 39-8 in the past two years, is priority #1.

The rotation could then be Scherzer, Tanaka, Pineda, CC (aging and coming off a knee injury, he drops to #4) and Shane Greene. It’s nice to have two aces at the top. Even three.

If Greene fails at #5, Ivan Nova comes back from TJ surgery next year, probably at mid-season.

You also could fill the #5 slot with Phelps, Manny Banuelos (if he isn’t dealt in a package deal), Bryan Mitchell (package deal?), or Jaron Long (same thing).

 

Go full out in keeping Robertson (the Yanks made him a qualifying offer, will he accept?). That way, Betances can stay as a setup guy (and you could use him two innings at a time). Phelps, Warren and Kelley make five relief guys, with Phelps and Warren able to give more than one inning and being available to spot start if needed. This leaves room for two lefties. Give Jacob Lindgren a shot. Maybe bring back David Huff, who can give innings also.

 

There are still problems with the team. I’m not sold on Beltran, A-Rod, McCann and Teix being the 4-7 hitters (in whatever order). There is still some age.

But I try to bring in some youth in Lindgren, Refsnyder, and Pirela. I try to have a two or three-ace pitching rotation with Scherzer and Tanaka. It’s three if Pineda (1.89 ERA in 2014) can stay healthy. Four if CC can be CC again (I don’t think it’ll happen).

I look for some versatility in Prado (mostly 3B, but can play 2B, LF, RF), Morse (LF/RF/1B) and Pirela (1B/2B/3B/LF/RF). Look for A-Rod to mostly DH but fill in at 1B/3B.

Anyway, for me, I go one big free agent splash (Scherzer), one minor one (Morse) and then see about acquisition #3… either big free agent splash (Ramirez) or big trade (Tulo or Castro).

That is what I’d do… as for others….

MLB Trade Rumors and SI have the Yanks getting Scherzer and Ramirez.

However, in the NY Post, Ken Davidoff has them getting neither, but getting cheaper alternatives.

So here is my team, with the crossouts from my team with a line through them, and then the Davidoff replacements following in italic.

McCann, Cervelli or Murphy, Teixeira, Refsnyder, Headley , Prado, Ramirez (or Tulo or Castro), Drew, A-Rod, Ryan, Pirela. So it would look like the infield would be Headley at 3B, Prado at 2B with Drew at SS. No offense to Drew, but a big comedown from my hoping for Castro, Ramirez or Tulowitzki.

Outfield: Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, Morse. (maybe the Yanks go cheap and instead of Morse, keep Chris Young. Again, a comedown?)

 

Pitching: Scherzer, McCarthy, Tanaka, Pineda, CC and Greene. (with Nova coming back mid-season if someone falters/gets hurt)

Robertson, Betances, Warren, Phelps, Kelley, Lindgren and Huff. Andrew Miller. Not sure who would be scratched, Huff or the rookie Lindgren.

But with Davidoff’s team, it appears like Refsnyder and Lindgren get more minor league time. Also, the Yanks go with cheaper alternatives (McCarthy and Drew) than the big play Scherzer/Ramirez types.

If the Yanks are able to get Miller and retain Robertson, that bullpen could be lights out.

But the offense really worries me, esp. if they go on the cheap and hope for a rebound from Drew instead of going in the direction I am going in.

 

Ok, you’ve seen some scenarios.

 

Now if YOU were Cashman, what would YOU do?

Recent happenings.

Ok, since the WS ended, a couple of managerial moves.

Joe Maddon has opted out of his Rays contract and has taken over the Cubs job, replacing Rick Renteria.

HOF Paul Molitor will be the new manager of the Twins, who let Ron Gardenhire go.

The Yanks have offered a qualifying offer to David Robertson (1 yr., $15.3 MM). We will see if he accepts. So far, no one receiving a qualifying offer has accepted. This burned Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales last year. If D-Rob declines and goes elsewhere, the Yanks get a draft pick. Will D-Rob accept? Can they work out a deal?

The Yanks are apparently talking to Chase Headley to see if he wants to return. Headley could hit the open market, too.

Soon, I’ll be taking a look at the Yanks and will state what I would do if I were Cashman. You may have your own thoughts. Feel free to share.

In winter league ball, Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Jose Pirela and Aaron Judge are all doing well. Bird tagged a 450 ft. hr in the Arizona Fall League all-star game.

Team of Destiny? KC up 2-0; SF goes up 1-0.

I’m starting to wonder if KC is a team of destiny for this postseason. They won their sixth straight postseason game, doing it late like usual, albeit in regulation, not in extras this time. (Four of their six postseason wins have come in extra innings). They scored two in the top of the ninth to break a 4-4 tie and win 6-4 on Saturday. They go home up 2 games to none in the ALCS, winning both games in Baltimore.

Meanwhile the NLCS, the visiting San Francisco Giants shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in Game 1 last night.

Good move in Cashman telling A-Rod to prepare for reps at 1B in spring training. I’m not a fan at all of A-Rod’s return, but since he’ll be 40 next July, missed all of 2014 and all but 44 games in 2013, also is coming off two hip surgeries, you wonder about EVERYTHING with him. Offense, defense, baserunning. There is no guarantee he can hit, handle 3B, etc. But the Yanks didn’t have a legit 1B backup for the fragile Teixeira last year. Kelly Johnson, moving a C to 1B (McCann/Cervelli), even sometimes putting Brendan Ryan there… not answers. At least with A-Rod you would have an experienced infielder… and hopefully power-hitting 1B, playing 1B when Teix can’t.  It beats what was attempted last year, when there was no legitimate backup to 1B.

Turning to college football, this PSU grad has to say that so far he isn’t too impressed with the new coaching staff at his alma mater. I’m not thrilled with some of the play calling this season, there isn’t a running game, for some reason big bull Zach Zwinak appears to be underutilized (the big boy may not be quick or gain too much yards/carry, but he may be able to wear down the opposition in the 4th quarter if used more often earlier in the game) and the O-line has serious issues.

Cashman returns, but not Long or Kelleher

The Yanks signed GM Brian Cashman to a new 3-yr. deal today, but let go of hitting coach Kevin Long and 1B/Infield coach Mick Kelleher.

Wild cards set.

So now the one-game wild cards are set. KC defeated the A’s in a thrilling 12-inning affair Tuesday night and will face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I hate that. Call them the California Angels, Anaheim Angels, whatever, but shorten it) in one ALDS. The other ALDS has the Detroit Tigers playing the Baltimore Orioles.

It was quite a fall for Oakland, who started the year strong but barely held on to make the wild card game. In that game, the Oakland A’s took a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th but gave up 3 in the 8th and one in the 9th to the Kansas City Royals. The A’s got a run in the top of the 12th but the Royals came back with two in the bottom of the inning to win the game 9-8.

It was a battle between one team (the A’s) who used to be in KC (1955-1967) vs. another team who is there (Royals, 1969-   ). It was the Royals’ first postseason game since winning the 1985 World Series.

In the NL wild card game, it was no contest. Madison Baumgarner threw a 4-hit shutout and the San Francisco Giants beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0. Brandon Crawford became the first SS ever to hit a grand slam in a postseason game.

The Giants now face the Washington Nationals in one NLDS while the other will have the St. Louis Cardinals facing the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As for the Yankees, they are currently in discussions with GM Brian Cashman about a new contract. Carlos Beltran had surgery to remove that bone spur in his right elbow that plagued him this year.

Game 149. Yanks’ offense disappoints again in 1-0 loss.

This has been the story of the Yankees’ season in 2014—a good pitching performance sabotaged by an underperforming, often non-existent offense. The OPS+ is 94, the ERA + 104. That more or less tells you a lot. (100 is average, the higher the better).

Tampa Bay scored with two out in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Yanks 1-0 Monday night.

Last time out, Chris Capuano only got one out. This time, he pitched six shutout, two-hit innings in lowering his overall ERA to 4.55. 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 walks and 4 K.

Adam Warren pitched two scoreless innings, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 1 K, 3.21.

Shawn Kelley (L, 3-6, 4.20) took the loss. 2/3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 walk and 1 K.

The Yanks got just six hits in the game. Derek Jeter, 0 for his last 24, was given the day off.

With the loss, and Baltimore’s win, the inevitable finally happened, the Yanks were eliminated from winning the division. As far as that final playoff spot goes, they are now six back with 13 to go and must jump over four teams to do so.  Although not mathematically eliminated yet, you can stick a fork in them. Just being realistic, here.

At 76-73, it is looking more and more likely that the Yanks won’t match last year’s record of 85-77, and will wind up with their worst season since 1992, which was their last season under .500. They have to win six of the remaining 13 games to finish above .500.

If they can get hot, they could pass Toronto (and yes, the Yanks do have games left against the Blue Jays) for second place in the division. Small consolation, since the second place won’t come with a wild card berth.

In related news, Mark Newman is stepping down as Farm Director, and Masahiro Tanaka threw five innings in instructional league. Tanaka may be back this weekend.